DATA REPORT 2018
In the 2017 publication, Preventing Missed Opportunity: Taking Collective Action to
Confront Chronic Absence, Attendance Works provided compelling evidence that any
student absences equivalent to missing 10% or more of school, whether excused,
unexcused or due to suspension predicts:
• lower levels of numeracy and literacy by third grade,
• class failure in middle school, higher levels of suspension, and
• higher likelihood of high school dropout and lower rates of college completion.
The impact begins in the early grades where chronic absenteeism effects the most
vulnerable children living in poverty. The families do not typically have the financial
resources to make up for lost educational opportunities.
Mississippi KIDS Count (2014) and the Office of Civil Rights’ (OCR) reports confirm
that there is a strong link between chronic absenteeism and low student achievement.
High rates of absenteeism often contribute to a widening of the achievement gap among
students from low income families and other minority groups. Students who are frequently
absent from school miss instructional time, resulting in lower performance on coursework,
course exams, and standardized assessments. Missing two (2) or more days from the
educational setting, per month, can set students back one (1) to two (2) full years of
learning. Research confirms that children will do worse in school if they are not in class
to learn; therefore, improving student attendance is the foundation to improving positive
educational outcomes for students.
Over the past decades, Mississippi has largely focused on truancy, which is the
absence of a compulsory school age student from school for f ive (5) or more days
without a valid excuse. Many educators erroneously concluded that truancy is equivalent
to chronic absenteeism. However, truancy is only one component of chronic absenteeism.
Truancy is an unlawful act and may subject the parent or guardian to criminal prosecution.
It is important to note that Mississippi law considers suspensions as unexcused absences
and does not calculate suspensions as part of the districts’ or state’s truancy rate;
however, suspensions are calculated within the chronic absenteeism rates for schools
and districts. Utilizing a 180-day school year, any student missing 18 days (10%) or more
within a school year would be identified as chronically absent. Therefore, there is a sense
of urgency at the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) in addressing the issue of
chronic absenteeism since attendance impacts individual schools, school districts, and
Prior to the 2016-2017 school year, each district had the responsibility of reporting
various data, which included attendance, to the OCR. The previous reporting process
was based on the state’s definition of an absence from school (missing 37% of a school
day). Also, the United States Department of Education (USDOE) released new reporting
standards for calculating chronic absenteeism in April 2017. The calculations include:
Any student absent 10% or more of the time that he/she was enrolled in a school.
Any student enrolled in a school for at least 10 days must be included in the
Any students who miss 50% or more of a school day will be counted as absent
starting with the 2018-2019 school year.
Any student enrolled in more than one school will be included in the report.
New calculations must be reported in December 2017.
Districts and schools need to ensure that attendance data are accurately reported in
the Mississippi Student Information System (MSIS). The data collected from MSIS will
help the MDE to understand who is chronically absent, at what grade levels chronic
absenteeism tends to occur, how chronic absenteeism compares district by district, and
other data needed to aid districts in reducing the number of students who are chronically
This document provides 2016-2017 chronic absenteeism rates by district and school.
The data will assist districts and schools to reduce chronic absenteeism. Districts and
schools must dive deeper into their individual student data to determine the variables that
impact chronic absenteeism. Districts and schools should:
• Analyze student-level variables, which should include student's physical and
mental health, perceptions of school, as well as the availability of family and
• Check number of suspensions by grade, race, and gender;
• Check number of excused absences and rationale to determine patterns by grade,
race and gender;
• Check number of unexcused absences by grade, race and gender;
• Study the culture and climate of the school, particularly as it relates to teacher-
• Evaluate the conditions of the school, such as, carpet, curtains and particularly the
school's ventilation system, which could impact student wellness and attendance;
• Encourage schools to pay attention to attendance trends by month, year, and
subgroups so that interventions can be implemented for students at-risk for chronic
absence before it becomes problematic;
• Create school attendance awareness campaigns to inform education
professionals, parents, and students why attendance matters;
• Cultivate community involvement in increasing school attendance through
• Develop clear and concise attendance policies;
• Understand and monitor attendance trends;
• Organize a schoolwide attendance strategy;
• Engage students and families;
• Address attendance barriers;
• Set goals and develop an attendance plan;
• Implement a System of Tiered Supports;
• Create a school climate that encourages students to come to school every day;
• Provide engaging curriculum that draws students to school.
There are 126 School Attendance Officers serving school districts across the state.
The officers are able to assist districts in reducing chronic absenteeism rates by:
• Investigating all cases of non-attendance;
• Assisting parents with locating resources for specific needs;
• Counseling students and families about the importance of attending school;
• Submitting referrals to counselors regarding a student’s emotional, academic,
social and career needs;
• Acting as a resource for school districts, families and students;
• Participating in the various committees related to reducing chronic absenteeism or
any other attendance initiatives;
• Aiding districts in the development and implementation of chronic absenteeism
• Promoting good attendance across schools and grade bands;
• Aiding districts in identifying environmental factors that may contribute to health
issues in the district;
• Aiding districts in understanding chronic absenteeism;
• Aiding districts in analyzing their chronic absenteeism data; and
• Implementing chronic absenteeism prevention initiatives.
Parent involvement is crucial in reducing chronic absenteeism rates. Effective
absence prevention programs facilitate parent/family involvement in finding solutions.
Some techniques are to:
• Ensure students arrive on time each day, well equipped and ready to learn;
• Take an interest in the education of their child by talking to them about school and
by attending school events;
• Call the school before 9:00 a.m. on each day of absence;
• Be alert to any signs that might indicate bullying or other issues that could affect
school attendance; and
• Inform the school immediately if there are any matters that arise that may affect
the attendance of their son/daughter.
Free chronic absenteeism resources can be found at www.attendanceworks.org/ and
https://www.fcru.ssrc.msstate.edu/380-2/. Technical assistance can also be provided by
the Office of Compulsory School Attendance Enforcement. For additional information
please contact Toni Kersh at 601.359.3178 or TKersh@mdek12.org.
Chronic Absenteeism Rates by Grade
The chart below represents chronic absenteeism rates by grade. The rate is consistent
with the data released by Mississippi KIDS Count in 2015 utilizing 2013-2014 data. There
is a steady decline in the rates in grades 1 through 3, however, the rates increase at
approximately two (2) percentage points or more in grades 5 through 12. The highest
chronic absenteeism rates occur in grade 12.
Chronic Absenteeism Report 2016‐2017 / Source: MSIS Data [NR = Not Reported/Suppressed due to low n‐count]
Definition: Student Absent* 10% or more of the time enrolled in school (min. 10 days enrollment)
* Student Absence defined by MS State Law of 37% or more of day absent
# of Students
# of Students
**STATEWIDE 2016 70275 496695 14.15%
PRE‐KINDERGARTEN 2016 NR NR 0.04%
KINDERGARTEN 2016 5142 37944 13.55%
FIRST GRADE 2016 3906 38535 10.14%
SECOND GRADE 2016 3367 39994 8.42%
THIRD GRADE 2016 3224 40751 7.91%
FOURTH GRADE 2016 3471 40295 8.61%
FIFTH GRADE 2016 3310 36873 8.98%
SIXTH GRADE 2016 4009 36799 10.89%
SEVENTH GRADE 2016 4804 37107 12.95%
EIGHTH GRADE 2016 5318 35927 14.80%
NINTH GRADE 2016 7155 37841 18.91%